Blog Archives

Looking Back on the War – Humor

Pacific Paratrooper received a request for a humorous post, from Equipsblog, after all the tissues I caused her to use in the previous posts –  so here’s what I came up with on short notice – hope you all like the stories – I’m sure some of you have stories from your relatives too – feel free to add them!!!

 

Zuit suit craze

I’VE GOT URGES FOR SERGES
I’ve gotta passion for fashion,
I’ve gotta run on fun,
‘Cause I’m Ten million new civilian
Ex-G.I.’s in one.
I’ve got urges for serges,
I’ve gotta need for tweed;
I’ll put the smile in a world of stylin’
No War Department decreed.
I’ll be the zoot-suit-suitor,
I’ll be the rainbow beau,
I’ll be the luminous,
Most voluminous,
Viva-Truman-ous-
Leader of the Freedom Show.
Long I’ve thirsted for worsted;
Ain’t I the plaid-glad lad?
Open the haberdash!
Here comes a color-flash!Here comes the post-war fad!
– Cpl. R. CHARLES

India

scrub brush business

They’re telling the story around New Delhi about a certain G.I. building supervisor who recently had a bit of trouble with his 19 Indian employees. Seems that one evening towards closing time, the G.I. bossman discovered that someone had made off with 12 of his good scrub brushes. He promptly called his staff together. “None of you guys leaves here ’til you bring back those brushes,” he ordered. The Indians thought it over for a moment, then scattered. A few minutes later, they reported back, each carrying a brush. Only 12 brushes lost. Nineteen returned. That’s good business.

______ September 1945, C.B.I. Roundup newspaper

Marine Raider Battalion, Makin Island
“One of the many BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle) men we had, damn fool, was loading his weapon and cranked off about a three-round shot, and that woke every Jap up that was in the South Pacific, and from then on, all hell broke loose … Well, the whom damn command situation broke down the minute the firing started,” says Carson. “None of the people there outside of a couple of sergeants that had fought in the civil war in Spain, none of them had any war experience, and so it kind of turned out to be everybody for himself and the devil for the hindmost and it was an unorthodox battle. And it was my first battle, so I had nothing to compare it to, and I got to thinking if this is an organized war, we’re in a hell of a shape.”

U.S. Navy, off Attu Island
David Lake was in charge of Mount Two of the 5-inch guns on USS Pennsylvania. The ship was among those sent to the waters off Alaska to aid in re-capturing islands there that had been occupied by Japanese troops.

“It was pretty darn cold up there, too. I stood my watches on Mount Two all the time … And we bombarded Attu and it got cold up there, I kid you not. The ice inside them guns mounts, you’d fire them and that ice would fly everywhere. ”

The one who served in Africa

Gen. Patton

“I was a private, a tank driver. Anyways, I was sitting by the side of my tank, reading a newspaper and just relaxing. All of a sudden I felt a horrible itch when I breathed out…and the normal human reaction? I picked my nose. Half-way through the nose picking, a shadow fell over me. I looked up with my finger stuck full up my nose. General Patton…standing over me…with a bunch of Army planners and such. I slowly started to take my finger out of my nose. “Soldier, did I give you an order to take your finger from your nose?” He asked. I, of course, gave him a full blown no sir, which sounded very high pitch. “Carry on soldier, and hunt that booger down.” He then walked off, with the group of Army people staring at me.

Battle of the Bulge

LOOK OUT BELOW!

In horror I learned that if a man was away from his unit for more than 20 days, starting that day, he would be re-positioned into another unit. I escaped the hospital, and joined up with my unit on the way to the woods. They called me “the cook” for the entire time. I had acquired a blanket, and spread it over the top of a 155mm hole, perfect size of a foxhole to! I soon employed my cooking skills to try and feed the men. But unfortunately, even 30 seconds out in the cold made the food almost frozen. I had cooked white navy beans one night, and it produced the most astonishing gastronomical outbursts anyone has heard. We thought the Germans could zero in on us just because of the noise.

 

 

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More Military Humor –

Future War Stories

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Farewell Salutes – 

Henry Amey – Kalamazoo, MI; US Army, WWII, ETO, 3rd Army

Carl Bengeton – Gary, IN; US Air Force, 8th Air Division

Pasquale Gugluzzi – Palm Beach, FL; US Navy, WWII, USS Solomons

John Hall – Natick, MA; US Merchant Marines / US Navy, WWII, PTO, Midshipman, USS Clay

Robert Ketterer – Pahrump, NV; US Army, WWII, APO

Kelley LaBrash – Dana, CAN; RC Army, WWII

William Murphy Jr. – Pittsburgh, PA; US Army, Korea, Sgt., 101st Airborne Division

Lawrence Rohrwasser – Franklin, WI; US Army, Korea, Co. F/187th RCT (airborne)

Jack Shires – Freer, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. G/511/11th Airborne Division

George Weitner – Snellville, GA; US Army, WWII, ETO

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11th Airborne Division honored

11th A/B trooper Wiiliam Carlisle on the cover of “Yank”

On the cover of the 14 September 1945 issue of Yank magazine,(Vol. 4 No. 13) is S/Sgt. William Carlisle of Chalmers, Indiana

This poem was written by: Pvt. Bronnell York, Battery D, 457th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion, 11th A/B; even if you are not a poetry enthusiast, it is worth reading.

“Victory For the U.S.A.”

We’re the boys of the 457,
Earning our major pay,
Fighting Japs and jungle life,
For three sixty cents a day.

Back home we’re soon forgotten,
By girls and friends we knew,
Here in the South Seas Islands,
Ten thousand miles from you.

All night the rains keep falling,
It’s more than we can stand,
“NO” folks, we’re not convicts,
We’re defenders of our land.

We’re the boys of many,

Bronnell York’s original poem

Holding the upper hand,
Hitting the silk and hoping,
We’re living when we land.

We’re having it pretty tough now,
You can believe what I say,
Some day we hope to live again,
Back home in the USA.

Victory’s in the making,
Our future will be serene,
We’ve got the Navy backing us,
Along with the fighting Marines.

We’re in this all together,
Fellas like you and me,

We’ll be a united people,
And our Country will be free.

There’s no two ways about it,
We’ll either do or die,
For our Country with dictation,
Is not for you or I.

When the war is over,
And we have finished what they began,
We’ll raise Old Glory high above,
The Empire of Japan.

So, to all you 4F jokers,
Who thinks there’s something you missed,
Don’t let the draft board get you,
And for God’s sake don’t enlist.

It might be a long time yet,
Then it might be any day,
When smiling faces see the Golden Gate,
And sail in Frisco Bay.

When this conflict’s over,
The boys can proudly say,
We had to fight for what was ours,
Victory for the U.S.A.!

*****         *****          *****

11th Airborne Memorial

Some of my friends and readers who visit often might remember this cover of Yanks magazine with William Carlisle , of the 11th A/B on the cover.  Koji of http://p47koji.wordpress.com notified me that he found a William and Norma Carlisle in Chalmers, IN.

I sent a note to inquire about the photo.  I received this reply from his widow:

Hello! So nice of you to write, Bob would have been pleased. The picture on the cover of the Yank magazine is William Robert Carlisle, my husband. I’m sure he could have told you stories of the 11th Airborne.  I’m Mrs. Norma Carlisle, Bob’s wife. I’m sorry to tell you that Bob passed away on Dec. 12 – 1997. I miss him! Hope you and yours are enjoying the Golden Years! God Bless, Norma

I was so disappointed to discover that we had lost yet another trooper’s tales of the era and a little taken back to see that he passed on what would have been my father’s 83rd birthday.

With many thanks to Josh, we now have a link to the war memorial that honors the 11th Airborne using Mr. Carlisle’s photo as a model.

http://www.warmemorialhq.org/cpg/thumbnails.php?album=520

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

“I dropped out of parachute school.”

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Stanley Abraham – Greenwood, NY; US Army, WWII, 299th Combat Engineers

Bobby ‘Pete’ Beckett – Logan, WV; US Army, WWII, Medic

Martha Groton – Washington D.C.; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Gordon Huff – CAN; RC Navy, WWII

William Jones – Tucker, GA; US Navy, WWII

James Myers – Rouseville, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. A/188/11th Airborne Division

Virgil Oyler – Barberton, OH; US Navy, WWII, aviation

Merle Smith – Clark County, WA; US Navy, Pearl Harbor, Electrician’s Mate 3rd Cl., USS Oklahoma, KIA

Randall Troop – Manchester, MA; US Navy, WWII, USS Colorado, radar

James Watson – Roanoke, VA; US Navy, WWII, ETO

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11th Airborne – Movin’ On

Smitty in Japan

This photograph was signed by two of my father’s buddies, John S. Lodero and Phil Martorano, both of Brooklyn, New York. Smitty (Everett Smith) is circled, but which two men are John and Phil is unknown.

When the SCAP Headquarters was set up in Tokyo, MacArthur was determined to create a “Peaceful and responsible government…” He also had to administer to a nation with nearly 70 million near-starving civilians and a constantly growing population of soldiers. The Japanese made the transition of being under one totalitarian rule to another quite easily and the general proceeded to supervise the writing and implementation of a new constitution. This was adopted in 1947, retaining the Emperor as a constitutional monarch and reestablished the primacy of the Diet. The zaibatu industrial combines were broken up and women were given rights.

Smitty’s brochures

The 11th Airborne was amazed by the change of attitude of the populace; without ever having actually been invaded, the Americans were being accepted. It made their future missions so much easier to accomplish. The Americal Division relieved the 11th Airborne on 14 September at their present locations and the following day, they began moving out by truck and railroad to their newly assigned zones in northern Honshu. Gen. Swing requested Gen. Dorn, who had served with Gen. Stilwell in China, to head the convoy.

In the Sendai area and billeted at the Japanese arsenal [name to be changed to Camp Schimmelpfennig, [named after the chief of staff who was killed in combat] were the – Division Headquarters, 127th Engineers, 408th Quartermaster, 711th Ordnance, 511th Signal, 221st Medical, Parachute Maintenance and the 187th and 188th regiments. The 511th went to Morioka [ name would be changed to Camp Haugen, for their leader killed in combat], the 457th and the 152d moved to Akita, the 472d went to Yamagata, the 674th was divided and sent to Jimmachi and Camp Younghans and the 675th went to Yonezawa.

In the Sendai area, Japanese authorities turned over hotels in the Matsushima area for officer’s quarters and their staff, which explains how Smitty came home with these beautiful brochures you will see pictured here. If you click on and enlarge the photo, you can see where Smitty pointed to the sort of room he was given.

Smitty’s room (bottom-right)

At one point while moving supplies, Eli Bernheim (S-4 Section of the 187th reg.), remembered the convoy of 40 Japanese charcoal burning trucks always breaking down and they became lost. The interpreter and Eli took out their map and became surrounded by curious townspeople. Eli slung his rifle over his shoulder and they scattered. The interpreter suggested laying the weapon down, the civilians regrouped and began touching his hair – turns out they had never seen an American before.

I suppose the word must have spread, because after that incident, the convoy was warmly greeted in every town they passed through. Once in their respective areas, the first priority was living conditions and the Japanese barracks were primitive with ancient plumbing and sewage deposited in reservoirs to be picked up later by farmers and used as fertilizer. The division historian recorded that of all the traffic accidents within the 11th A/B’s zone, NO trooper was ever guilty of hitting one of those “honey carts.”

General Swing made General Pierson commander of the 187th and 188th joint group which became known as the Miyagi Task Force. They set up their headquarters in an insurance company building in Sendai. The principle responsibility of the Miyagi Task Force was to collect and destroy all arms, munitions and armament factories. They were also charged with seeing that General MacArthur’s edicts were all carried out. Many of the military installations had underground tunnels filled with drill presses and machine tools of all types. The entire zone needed to be demilitarized and equipment destroyed. Colonel Tipton discovered a submarine base for the two-man subs and a small group of men still guarding them. They told the colonel that they just wanted to go home.

Smitty’s next move

Inside this brochure my father wrote, “No liquor here so didn’t have to go behind the bar, we drank our own. This is where I had my first real hot bath since coming overseas.”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Vernon Bly – Beaver Creek, MN; US Navy, WWII, / USNR, Lt. Comdr. (Ret.)

Charles Byers – Santa Barbara, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, TSgt., 385/551 Bomb Squadron, Purple Heart

Francis Cooney – Providence, RI; US Army, WWII, PTO, SSgt.

Nick Frank – Canton, OH; US Army, 11th Airborne Division, Armed Forces Press

John Hall – Natick, MA; US Merchant Marines / US Navy, WWII, Pto, Midshipman, USS Brill

Gregory Kristof – ID; US Navy, USS Rankin

Byron Otto – Bradenton, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. C/457 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Michael Stickley – Broad Channel, NY; US Army, Vietnam

James Thornberry – TN; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Elmer Upton – Port St. Lucie, MD; US Navy, WWII

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September 1945 in Japan

Dai Ichi Building in Tokyo flying both the American and United Nations flags

Soon after the official surrender of Japan, General MacArthur moved his headquarters into the Dai Ichi building in Tokyo. At noon, 8 September 1945, on the terrace of the U.S. Embassy, he met an honor guard from the 1st Calvary Division; they held the Stars and Stripes that had flown over the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. on 7 December 1941 – Pearl Harbor Day. As the red, white and blue began to rise… MacArthur said, “General Eichelberger, have our country’s flag unfurled and in Tokyo’s sun let it wave its full glory as a symbol of hope for the oppressed and as a harbinger of victory for the right.”

 

Hideki Tojo

Immediately after the ceremony, Major Paul Kraus and his MPs and a throng of reporters, (including George Jones of the New York Times) surrounded the home of Hideki Tojo. The general shot himself in the chest before anyone could enter his office. The bullet missed his heart. At the 48th Evacuation Hospital, he told Gen. Eichelberger, “I am sorry to have given General Eichelberger so much trouble.” The general asked, “Do you mean tonight or the last few years?” The answer was, “Tonight. I want General Eichelberger to have my new saber.”

Prince Konoye – 3 times Premier of Japan lies dead

The night before Prince Konoye was to be sent to Sugamo Prison, he drank poison and died. (I personally feel that the prince might have been acquitted of war criminal charges at the trials. He had tried for years to bring peace, his mistake being, his having chosen the Soviets as mediators and Stalin blocked him at every step.)

In reply of Allied and liberated Japanese press opinions of the Emperor, MacArthur was determined not to humiliate him: “To do so,” the general said, “would be to outrage the feelings of the Japanese people and make a martyr of the Emperor in their eyes.” As a student of Asian cultures, he proved to be correct. It would take two weeks, but the Emperor requested an interview with the general himself.

MacArthur and Hirohito meeting

His Majesty arrived in his ancient limousine with Grand Chamberlain Fujita and was met with a salute from General Bonner F. Fellers. When Fellers’ hand dropped, the Emperor grabbed it. An interpreter quickly explained that the Emperor was happy to see him. Fellers replied, “I am honored to meet you. Come in and meet General MacArthur.” Nervously, Hirohito allowed himself to be escorted up the staircase to the general’s office.

Trying to ease the tension, MacArthur told him he had been presented to his father, Emperor Taisho, after the Russian-Japanese War and offered Hirohito an American cigarette. The Emperor’s hand shook as it was lit and the general then dismissed everyone except the interpreter. The conversation before an open fire was observed, unknowingly, by Mrs. MacArthur and their son, Arthur who hid behind the long red drapes.

Emperor Hirohito rides at the imperial palace in 1940 wearing the uniform of commander in chief of Japanese forces. Associated Press

The emperor had been forewarned not to assume any responsibility for the war, but he did just that.”I come to you, General MacArthur, to offer myself to the judgment of the powers you represent as the one to bear sole responsibility for every political and military decision made and action taken by my people in the conduct of this war.”

MacArthur freely admitted being moved “to the marrow of my bones. He was an Emperor by inherent birth, but in that instant I knew I faced the First Gentleman of Japan in his own right.”

The Japanese acknowledged, without reservations, the temporal power of the current shogun, but revered what was eternal. (The Imperial Palace)

Resources: U.S. Signal Corps; “The Rising Sun” by John Toland; Gene Slover’s US Navy Papers; historyinanhour.com

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

“Cover me Johnson… I’ve got to Tweet this.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Elton Barber – Buckley, WA; US Navy, WWII, ETO, USS Chester

Robert “Sam” Carlson – MS; US Army Air Corps, WWII

THANKS Veterans for walking the walk!

Eugene Duffy – Beach Grove, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. A/127 Engineers/11th Airborne Division

Willard Dykes – Meridian, ID; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Albert Green – Sandy, OR; US Army, Korea, Co. G/187th RCT

James Heflin – Memphis, TN; USMC, WWII, PTO

Alice Jefferson – Stoneham, MA; US Coast Guard SPAR, WWII, Commander (Ret. 25 y.)

David Kesler – Berthoud, CO; US Navy, WWII, Baker 2nd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA, (Pearl Harbor)

Robert Spence – Montreal, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

Benjamin Starr – Montgomery, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII

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D-Day from a different view

German POWs

On 6 June 1944, Milton Roger Sosin, a seasoned reporter, took a ride up the south shore of Lake Okeechobee, Florida.  Overnight, the long anticipated invasion of Europe had begun.

The Miami Daily News was in search of local reactions from people in Florida – Sosin was assigned to talk to Germans.  Not German-Americans, and some weren’t too far away.

Milton Sosin, Miami Herald reporter

In May of 1943, Allied forces had begun to ship German POWs to the United States, more than 9,000 were sent to Florida’s 22 prisoner of war camps.  Near Clewiston, FL, was Liberty Point and Sosin was on his way.

On that warm day, he drove up U,S. 27, past pastures and farm land.  When he got to Liberty Point, prisoners were marching in from the fields, in formation, their shovels slung over their shoulders like rifles.

The draft had decimated the American labor force and disrupted the usual flow of Caribbean workers, so the Germans were put to work planting and harvesting sugar cane.

The Germans were happy to talk.  Yes, they had heard of the invasion, on radios the camp commander had bought them from what they earned running a canteen at the camp.  Enough of the POWs spoke English to translate the broadcasts to the rest.

June 1944 Headlines

The POWs told Sosin the reports were propaganda.  Germany, they said, surely would prevail.  Sosin’s story headline read, “Arrogant Nazis still laud Hitler.  Der Fuehrer’s Forces Think Germany Will Win The War.”

Sosin described the prisoners as “jaunty, confident and arrogant members of Der Fuerhrer’s forces – not cowed and beaten soldiers of a nation being pushed into a tighter and tighter circle.”

But their Glade home was no picnic for the fair-skinned men.  When the American Red Cross showed up, the temperature was 103°F and it had not rained for 6 months.  Prisoners worked long, hard hours, but the Americans could feel no sympathy for them – they knew what U.S. POWs in Germany were going through.

German prisoner buys candy at the canteen

The prisoners were paid 80 cents a day in coupons which they traded for cigarettes and beer.  Barracks held 6-men each and had mosquito netting.  They were served the same meals as their American camp guards.  Nearly 300 POWs fished in the local canals, saw films twice a week and assembled a band using instruments bought with their canteen money.

German POWs play chess

Prisoners had newspapers, took educational courses, played soccer and volley ball at a nearby school and competed against a local softball team.  But when the POWs went on strike whining over a cigarette ration cut – the army handed down a “No Work – NO Eat.” policy.

The prisoner’s had a social structure loosely split among the elite Afrika Korps captured in 1942; troops in Italy ’43-’44; and those captured after D-Day.  The Afrika Korps officers refused to believe what the new arrivals reported about the Normandy beaches and believed they were spies trying to demoralize them.  The korps prisoners would lord over the other POWs, doling out discipline and punishments.

Escaped German POW

Some tried to escape, but Florida was not the easiest place to go on the lam.  Most did not go very far.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ralph Brown – Maori Hill, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 424421, WWII

Paul ‘Bud’ Erlacher Jr. – Milford, CT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Sgt. Medical Corps

Lee Holstein – Laguna Woods, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. B/187/11th Airborne Division

Durwood Johnson – Cravens, LA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-17 tail-gunner

John Knaur – Des Moines, IA; US Navy, WWII, steamfitter, USS Amycus

Jack Maddox (100) – GA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, crew chief, 62 FS/56FG/8th Air Force

Newton Nelson – River Falls, WI; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Harry Siria – Thompson Falls, MT; US Navy, WWII, PTO, fire ship

Otho ‘Coke’ Wiseman – NM; US Army, WWII, ETO, Purple Heart

Elvin Zipf – Pompton Plains, NJ; US Navy, WWII, air corps

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Additional Surrenders

Lubang Island surrender

The extraordinary reluctance of Japanese soldiers to surrender was regarded by the Allies at the time as an indication of fanatical devotion to the Emperor.  While that was doubtless a factor, particularly among the officer corps, other elements may have been at play. Inoue Hayashi, a junior Japanese Army officer, claimed that the iron rule against surrender was necessary to  prevent a total collapse of morale. (Hastings 2007):

“If we were told to defend this position or that one, we did it. To fall back without orders was a crime. It was as simple as that. We were trained to fight to the end, and nobody ever discussed doing anything else. Looking back later, we could see that the military code was unreasonable. But at that time, we regarded dying for our country as our duty. If men had been allowed to surrender honorably, everybody would have been doing it.”

“Those who know shame are weak. Always think of [preserving] the honor of your community and be a credit to yourself and your family. Redouble your efforts and respond to their expectations. Never live to experience shame as a prisoner. By dying you will avoid leaving behind the crime of a stain on your honor.”

Prince Konoye – 3 times Premier of Japan lies dead

The logical demands of the surrender were formidable. So many different ceremonies took place across Asia and the entire Pacific. Here we will look into some that proceeded peacefully and others that refused the peace. In actuality, the state of war between the U.S. and Japan did not officially end until the Treaty of San Francisco took effect 28 April, 1952.

One mass surrender did occur at Noemfoor in September 1944 when 265 Japanese enlisted men, angry at their superiors for stealing their food for their own use. And, in August 1945, another starving Japanese military unit surrendered to a lieutenant in New Guinea. On 1 December 1945, Captain Oba and 46 members of his unit were the last Japanese on Guam to surrender.

In 1946, on Lubang Island, Philippines, intense fighting developed on 22 February when American and Filipino troops met 30 Japanese soldiers. Eight of the Allied troops were killed. Then in April, 41 members of a Japanese garrison came out of the jungle, unaware that the war was over.

Ei Yamaguchi entering his old tunnel.

At the end of March 1947, a band of Japanese led by Ei Yamaguchi of 33 men renewed the fighting on Peleliu Island. There were only 150 Marines stationed on the island by that time and reinforcements were called in to assist. A Japanese Admiral also went to convince the troops that the war was indeed over. The holdouts came out of the jungle in two different groups in late April. Yamaguchi returned to his old tunnel in 1994 and Eric Mailander and Col. Joe Alexander interviewed him. To see the interview go to – http://www.pacificwrecks.com/people/visitors/mailander/ (If this link was not done correctly, please go to Pacific Wrecks. com)

In that same month, on Palawan Island, 7 Japanese troops armed with a mortar launcher emerged from the jungle and surrendered. On 27 October 1947, the last Japanese soldier surrendered carrying a water bottle, a broken Australian bayonet and a Japanese entrenching tool.

USMC base during Operation Beleaquer

Not until late 1948, did 200 well organized troops give themselves up on Mindinao, P.I.  And, in China, 10-20,000 well equipped Japanese troops who were trapped in the mountains of Manchuria between the warring Nationalist and Communist forces, finally found a chance to surrender thanks to the efforts of the USMC Operation Beleaguer.

In 1949, there was one report of two men living in the shadow of American troops finally turning themselves in.

Teruo Nakamura was one of the last known holdouts of WWII when he emerged from the jungle retreat that housed him in Indonesia, December 1974. There were rumors of men claiming to be holdouts in the 1980’s, but none were officially confirmed.

Probably the most memorable of the holdouts was Hiroo Onoda, whose story we will see in the next post.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Personal Note – 

Those expecting a D-Day post, simply type, ‘D-Day’, into the Search bar at the top-right of this post and you are bound to find one of interest.  A rather different view of D-Day will be forthcoming.

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Military Humor – 

This comic strip was found on the opposite page of the Japanese surrender article, N.Y. Daily News, 3 Sept. 1945, by Smitty’s mother.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Eli Blumenberg – Denver, CO; US Navy, WWII

William Tully Brown – Winslow, AZ; USMC, WWII, PTO, Navajo Code Talker

Dorothy “Red” Churchill (104) – Wallingford, CT; Civilian photographer for US military

Frank DeGennaro – Canonsburg, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. A/188/11th Airborne Division

Edwin Glatzhofer – Pinehurst, NC; US Army, WWII, Signal Corps

H.W. Hanks – Memphis, TN; US Army, WWII, ETO, 103rd Infantry Division

John Knauer – Des Moines, IA; US Navy, WWII, steamfitter, USS Amycus

Louis Levi Oakes – Akwesasane, NY; US Army, WWII, Co. B/442nd Signal Battalion

Louis Smith – Carlisle, AR; US Navy, WWII

Burton Walrath – Cedar Key, FL; US Army, WWII, ETO, 1st Sgt., Combat Engineers

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Japanese Holdouts on Saipan

Anatahan Island surrender

 

On September 2, 1945, representatives from the Allied and Japanese governments signed the peace treaty that ended World War II.

Or did it?

In June 1944 American warships sank several Japanese troop transports. Survivors from the vessels swam to safety and reached the island of Anatahan, located approximately 75 miles north of Saipan. The island was uninhabited, and possessed steep slopes, deep ravines, and high grass.

In January 1945 a B-29 bomber from the 498th Bomber Group, returning from an air raid over Japan, developed engine trouble and slammed into a grassy field. The crash killed the entire crew.

The small group of Japanese who had survived the sinking of their transports quickly cannibalized the aircraft. They utilized metal from the wreckage to manufacture makeshift knives, pots, and roofing for their huts. The plane’s oxygen tanks held their potable water, clothing was fashioned from the silk parachutes, and cords were used to make fishing lines. The aircraft’s weapons were confiscated as well.

Surrender at Anatahan Island

Later in 1945, the Japanese were discovered by Chamorros who had gone to Anatahan to recover the remains of the missing bomber crew. The natives returned and testified to authorities that they had seen the Japanese soldiers and also one Okinawan woman.

Upon hearing this news, U.S. planes dropped leaflets on the island asking the soldiers to surrender. Fearing execution, the holdouts refused the request. With the small band of Japanese virtually isolated from the outside world, they were soon forgotten.

Then, after six years of this Spartan existence, Kazuko Higa, the Okinawan woman, got the attention of an American ship as she walked on the beach. When approached by a landing party, she asked to be taken from the island.

Upon her arrival on Saipan, Higa told U.S. officials that the Japanese did not trust the Americans. It was also learned that the woman had a busy love life while imprisoned there and her flirtations had caused some jealousy. It seems she would “transfer her affections between at least four of the men after each mysteriously disappeared as a result of being swallowed by the waves while fishing.”

Finally, the Japanese government intervened and contacted the families of the survivors, asking them to write letters telling their loved ones that Japan had surrendered.

In addition, a letter from the governor of Kanagawa Prefecture was sent to convince the “Robinson Crusoes” to give themselves up. It read in part: “Previously, in our country, a prisoner of war lost face. That is not so now. The Emperor ordered all our people, wherever they were, to surrender peacefully. I believe you have read letters from your family which said not to worry which will give you confidence to give yourself up to the Americans. In the box of new letters sent to you we are enclosing a piece of white cloth with which you can signal the Navy boat. You do not have to worry. The Americans will give you their best attention and kindness until you are returned to our country.”

This message was dropped on June 26, 1951. Several days later, the Japanese waved the white flag of surrender.

On June 30, 1951, the USS Cocopa, a U.S. Navy tug, appeared offshore. Lieutenant Commander James B. Johnson, the ship’s commanding officer, and Mr. Ken Akatani, an interpreter, made their way to the beach in a rubber boat.

Once ashore, Johnson and Akatani met with the Japanese to accept their formal surrender, now dubbed Operation Removal by the U.S. Navy. With their meager belongings wrapped in cloth, the survivors were brought aboard the tug and sent to Guam. Once there, they boarded a Navy plane and were flown to Japan to be reunited with their families.

Other stories of Japanese military personnel holding out in South Pacific locales continued for years.  We will discuss more in the following post on Thursday.

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Military Humor – 

This B-29 crew on Guam wasted no time in starting an enterprising venture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Beford Brown – Miami, FL; US Navy, WWII, Boatswain’s mate 2nd Class, USS Intrepid

John Cheesman – New Haven, CT; US Army, WWII, PTO

Sherman Douglass – Gloucester, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Sgt.

Bruce Dowd – Howick, NZ; RNZEF #637275, WWII, Pte.

E.W. “Tony” Gehringer – St. Louis, MO; US Navy, WWII & Korea, (Ret. 21 y.)

Richard Haviland – Harvey, IL; US Navy, WWII

Joseph Milligan Jr. – Savannah, GA; US Coast Guard, WWII

Michael Ryan – New Orleans, LA; US Navy, WWII, Higgins boat duty

Erma Scott – Huntington, WV; US Army WAC; WWII, Corps of Engineers / Pentagon

John Walker Jr. – Weaver’s Ford, NC; US Army, WWII, ETO, Cpl., 84th Infantry Division

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Surrenders in the Pacific

 

Okinawa

Once the Emperor gave his speech for peace, the Japanese gave their surrenders across the Pacific, but not all went as smoothly as the one held on the USS Missouri. As late as 31 August, according to U.S. Intelligence reports, the Japanese refused to believe the surrender reports and ambushed a SRD party and three of the Japanese were killed.

In the Ryukyus, things were far more simple. The senior officer in the Sakishima Gunto, Lt. General Gon Nomi, Toshiro, whose headquarters was on Miyako Shima, had been given authority to conclude a peace treaty for all Army and Navy forces in the Sakishima Gunto, Daito Islands and the islands in the Okinawa Gunto not already under American control. The official papers were signed on 7 September 1945, with General Stillwell presiding.

Gen. Hata at surrender table with the Soviets

General Shunroku Hata and his Army had taken only three weeks in April-May of 1944 to rout 300,000 Chinese soldiers in Honan to secure the Peking-Hankow railroad. He then moved south and then west to meet up with the Japanese forces in French Indochina. The 14th Air Force and the Chinese Air Force could not stop the offensive and by the end of May, General Marshall and the Joint Chiefs of Staff basically wrote off the Chinese Theater. Yet in the end, Gen. Hata signs the surrender.

Lord Louis Mountbatten with MacArthur

12 September, Lord Mountbatten accepted the surrender of all enemy forces in Southeast Asia in Singapore. Once again, the Union Jack was flying over Government House. But, due to Britain’s overstretched resources, Japanese soldiers were used to maintain law and order in the region. Europe’s colonialism was severely damaged and in 1947, Britain granted independence to India and Pakistan.

17 August, American parachutists landed near Nanking on the Wse-hsien interment camp. The Japanese were forced to protect the troopers from the unrest (actually chaos) erupting in the area between Communist and Nationalist armies. On 9 September, General Ho Chin accepted the Japanese surrender of China (except Manchuria, Formosa [now Taiwan] and Indochina north of the 16th parallel in the name of Chiang Kai. Mao’s forces stayed away even though Allied officials were present. By not being at Central Military Academy in Whampoa, he was in violation of the Potsdam accords and went on to accept his own regional surrenders.

Australian & British POWs on Borneo

The British had been slow in retaking Hong Kong and revolts broke out. The POWs were not receiving food and the Chinese population caused riots in the streets. The British civil servants eventually took over while the Japanese kept the order. 16 September, the official surrender took place, but not until November were all Japanese troops in the New Territories relieved, disarmed and repatriated.

After a meeting in Rangoon, Mountbatten arranged for the Allied forces to enter Siam and Indochina. Thirteen days later, he flew his 7th Indian Division to Bangkok to move onward to Saigon. They were to assist the French in securing the southern half of Vietnam again as a French colony. The Americans felt that the French had already bled the country dry over the past century and so here – the start of the Vietnam War that would last until 1974.

Thailand had survived by playing both sides while attempting to appear neutral. Japanese General Hamada, responsible for heinous POW atrocities, committed seppuku.

Indonesia was grateful to the Japanese for throwing out the Dutch and declared their independence. Although British and Dutch troops made attempts to return them to colonization, they resisted. The Americans moved in with orders to disarm the Japanese and then leave. It would take four years of fighting before the Hague would recognize Indonesia as a sovereign country.

Burma disliked the Japanese, but they had given them a taste of independence from the British. They took no part in the surrender proceedings. After the Japanese were shipped home and fighting resumed with the British, the independent nation nation was established 4 January 1948.

India had acquired their own army under the Japanese Co-Prosperity Sphere, but not independence. After the war, the British tried in vain to hold the country, but hostility forced them to grant India their freedom in 1947. The transition was overseen by Governor General Mountbatten.

Korea – September 1945 – being relieved of all weapons

In Korea, the Japanese were ordered to sweep Inchon harbor of mines before the American fleet arrived. The Japanese, here again, were needed to maintain order until Koreans could be trained to contain the mobs. Korea had actually been ignored as far as surrender and removal of the Japanese. The U.S. had gone there to disarm the enemy. The end result of the incompetent handling of Korea during and after WWII attributed to the Korean War.

Click on  images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

Envelope Art

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Farewell Salutes – 

Michael Bach – Utica, NY; US Army, Korea, Vietnam, 101st Airborne Division

Donald Creedon – New Hartford, NY; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Leo Fitzpatrick – Sharon, MA; US Navy, WWII

Robert Glass – Crosby, MN; US Merchant Marines, WWII, PTO / US Air Force (Ret. 22 y.)

Lewis Holzheimer – Neihart, MT; US Army, WWII, ETO, 60th Infantry Regiment, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Russell Kelly – Seabrook, NH; US Navy, WWII

Willard Marquis – Casper, WY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO

Louis Orleans – Ft. Collins, CO; US Army, WWII

Martin Sander – Odenton, MD; US Army, WWII, Sgt.

Wiley Walker – Canyon, TX; US Army, 1st Calvary Division, Colonel (Ret. 27 y.)

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Japanese Surrender

11th Airborne Recon Battalion Honor Guard, Missouri 9/2/45

The above photo shows the 11th Airborne Reconnaissance Battalion Honor Guard as they presented arms to the Allied and Japanese delegations upon their arrival.

General Douglas MacArthur, despite the irate fuming of the Soviets, was to be the Supreme Commander in Japan for the Occupation and rebuilding of the country. No occupational zone was given to the Russians irregardless of their protests. The Soviets were insisting that they were to receive the Kuriles and Hokkaido in Northern Honshu as their ‘spoils of war.’ Stalin sent an emissary with these plans to MacArthur, who in reply threatened to sent the messenger back to Moscow rather than allow him to remain in his observer status. Stalin also sent a telegram to Truman with the same demands. At first, the president felt he would just ignore the irrational request, but then decided to just send a negative reply. The Soviet plan for the takeover was in effect until 23 August, when the Russian leader realized that Admiral Nimitz controlled the Japanese waters and he would be risking an armed conflict.

Men crammed the USS Missouri for the surrender.

At 0700 hours on Sunday morning, 2 September, guests to the Japanese surrender ceremony began arriving as destroyers pulled up to the USS Missouri and unloaded their passengers, military officers and correspondents from around the globe. At 0805 hours, Admiral Nimitz climbed on board and MacArthur at 0843. Finally, the Japanese delegation went up the starboard gangway at 0855. Foreign Minister, Mamoru Shigemitsu, using a cane and in agony because of a poorly fitted artificial leg, and General Umezu were followed by nine representatives, three each from the Army, Navy and Foreign Office. They paused, awaiting directions, each wearing a Shiran Kao (nonchalant face). The proceedings began at precisely 0908 hours with men draped from the decks and 450 aircraft from Task Force 38 roaring above in the overcast skies.

An invocation was read by the ship’s chaplain with the entire company standing at attention and a recording of the “Star-Spangled Banner” played through the speakers. Kase, the Foreign Minister’s secretary, felt his throat constrict upon seeing the number of small painted Rising Suns on the bulkhead. Each miniature flag represented a Japanese plan or submarine destroyed. Admiral Tomioka wondered why the Americans were showing no signs of contempt for them, but also, anger seared through him at the sight of the Soviet presence. The eyes of General Percival and Colonel Ichizi Sugita (interpreter) locked as they both remembered an earlier surrender and their painful memory at the Ford factory in Singapore.

Generals Wainwright and Percival stood with MacArthur as he began to speak, “We are gathered here to conclude a solemn agreement whereby Peace may be restored…” (There was a brief interruption by an inebriated delegate [thankfully NOT American] who began making faces at the Japanese.)

When the general had finished and the U.S. and Japan had signed the documents, as if on cue, the sun broke through the clouds. The next to sign was China, Britain, Australia, Canada, France, the Netherlands and New Zealand. MacArthur announced, “These proceedings are closed.” He then leaned over to Admiral Halsey and asked, “Bill, where the hell are those planes?” As if the pilots could hear the general’s irritation – 400 B-29s and 1,500 aircraft carrier planes appeared out of the north and roared toward the mists of Mount Fujiyama.

Aircraft flyover for surrender proceedings.

MacArthur then went over to another microphone to broadcast back to the United States, “Today the guns are silent. A great tragedy has ended…” Japan’s delegates, now no longer considered the enemy, were saluted as they left the quarterdeck.

MacArthur making history

Resources: “The Last Great Victory” by Stanley Weintraub; “The Rising Sun” by John Toland; Wikicommons.org; ibilio.org; USS Missouri.com; Everett’s scrapbook; “The Pacific War” by John Costello

Remember to click photo if larger view is required.   Thank you for stopping by.

 

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Historical note – Almost a century before these proceedings, Commodore Perry had opened the West’s door to Japan. In commemoration of this, Admiral Halsey arranged for the actual Stars & Stripes, flown by Perry’s flagship in 1853, to be flown out to Japan for the ceremonies.

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Note of Interest – Truman was very pleased that the “USS Missouri” was chosen for the momentous occasion. It was one of the four largest battleships in the world, it was named after his home state and christened by his daughter, Margaret. (I find it hard to believe that this was just a coincidence.)

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Humorous note – On 1 September, the “Missouri’s” gunnery officer, Commander Bird, held a dress rehearsal for the ceremonies with 300 of the ship’s sailors. Everything went well until the band began to play the “Admiral’s March.” The stocky chief boatswain’s mate nicknamed, Two-Gut,” froze in his steps and scratched his head saying, “I’ll be damned! Me, an admiral!”

When the real Admiral Nimitz came aboard, he nearly went unnoticed. In desperation, Commander Bird shouted, “Attention, all hands!” Everyone on the ship became so silent that you could hear the waves lapping at the ship’s hull.

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Military Humor – 

“INCOMING”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Thomas Burnette Jr. – Atlanta, GA; US Army, Vietnam, Lt.Gen. (Ret.), West Point grad. 1968 / Pentagon

Frank Fogg Jr. (100) – Carney’s Point, NJ; US Navy, WWII & Korea, Chief Petty Officer (Ret. 22 y.)

Lee Gustafson – Cleburne, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. C/127 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Eleanor Harpring – MYC, NY; Civilian, USO, WWII, ETO

Frak Klobchar – MT; US Army, WWII

John Leak – Hickory Creek, AR; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Marlin Marcum – Daytona, FL; USMC, WWII, PTO

James Owens – Phoenix, AR; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Sea Bee

Vernon Skoglund – Seattle,m WA; US Army, Vietnam, 508th Infantry Airborne, fireman

Donald Wagner – Fort Thomas, KY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 82nd Airborne Division

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11th Airborne Division’s End of WWII Honor – part (2)

11th Airborne’s flag atop Atsugi hanger

General Swing, Commander of the 11th A/B, brought with him on the plane a large American flag and a banner painted, “CP 11th Airborne Division” to be fastened onto the roof of airplane hangar. He was dressed in battle fatigues and “11th A/B” was stenciled on his helmet. He carried a .38 pistol and a bandoleer of .38 caliber shells draped across his chest. (As ready for combat in Japan as he was on Leyte and Luzon.) A Japanese officer approached him as he departed the plane. The officer saluted and introduced himself as Lieut-General Arisuye, the officer in control of the Atsugi sector. He then asked the general what his current orders would be and Gen. Swing lost no time in telling him.

Gen. Swing (l) & Gen. Eichelberger (r) with Japanese detail

American POWs had been left unguarded at their prisons just days before. Two hours after Gen. Swing’s arrival, two POWs walked into the CP. (command post). They had taken a train from the prison to Tokyo. No Japanese soldiers or civilians approached them along the way.

Later that day, Colonel Yamamoto presented himself as the chief liaison officer; both he and his aide were still wearing their swords. Gen. Swing ordered them to remove their weapons. Yamamoto arrogantly protested and insisted on explaining that the sword was his symbol of authority. Swing repeated his order, but with a more firm and commanding tone of voice and the two Japanese men complied immediately.

Yokohama

The 11th A/B then proceeded on to Yokohama where the Allied Headquarters was to be established. The fifth largest city of Japan was now little more than a shantytown after the persistent Allied bombings. In fact, most of the towns and cities resembled the crumbled remains seen in Europe. Yokohama and Tokyo would become sites for the Allied Military Tribunal trials for the Japanese war criminals, similar to those held in Nuremberg for the Germans.

The trucks waiting for the men at Atsugi airfield to be used as transportation between Tokyo and Yokohama mostly ran on charcoal and wood. Only a few vehicles still operated on gasoline. They were consistently breaking down and the fire engine that led General MacArthur’s motorcade was said to look like a Toonerville Trolley.

Toonerville Trolley

Below, the photograph from the New York “Daily News” show the 11th A/B in front of the New Grand Hotel and on the right, one of the many vehicles that constantly broke down. The date written on the picture is the issue  my grandmother cut them from the paper, not the dates the pictures were taken.

11th Airborne guarding MacArthur’s hotel CP

General Swing wanted to view his newly arriving troops farther down the runway from where he was, when he spotted a Japanese general exiting his car. Seconds later, ‘Jumpin’ Joe’ hopped into the backseat. The interpreter translated from the driver to Swing that the limo was reserved for the Chief of Staff of the Imperial Army. Swing roared in returned, “Goddamn it, we won the war. Drive me down the strip.” Once in front of his troops, Swing exited the car and the Japanese captain said, “Well sir, Generals are alike in all armies.”

The 11th Airborne band set up for the arrival of General Douglas MacArthur at 1400 hours. When the general’s plane the ‘Bataan’ landed, the five-star general paused at the door wearing his pleated khakis, his shirt unbuttoned at the neck and the garrison hat with the gold encrusted visor crown. (In other words – his typical attire). There were no ribbons clipped to his shirt, but the customary corncob pipe hung from his lips at an angle. He then descended, shook hands with Gen. Eichelberger and quietly said, “Bob, from Melbourne to Tokyo is a long way, but this seems to be the end of the road.  This is the payoff.”

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Click on still images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Fleming Begaye Sr. – Chinle, AZ; USMC, WWII, PTO, Navajo Code Talker

James Bramble – Los Alamos, NM; US Army, WWII, Manhattan Project

Bernard Dargols – FRA & NY; US Army, WWII, ETO

Melvin Gibbs – Sylva, NC; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, MSgt. (Ret. 21 y.)

Estella Jensen – Arlington, WA; Civilian, WWII, Boeing machinist & welder

Frank Manchel – San Diego, CA; US Army, Sgt., WWII

Bob Maxwell – Bend, OR; US Army, WWII, ETO, Bronze Star, 2 Purple Hearts, 2 Silver Stars, Medal of Honor

Edd Penner – Springfield, MO; US Army, WWII

Carmine Stellaci – Morristown, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. A/188/11th Airborne Division

Spencer Wilkerson – Lancaster, PA; US Army, WWII, 28th/2nd Cabalry

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